Accor is betting on subscription. Interesting for the customer?

The French hotel group Accor plans to generalise the subscription cards already available in certain regions of the world. Its goal: to gain market share while offering attractive rates to its customers.

Accor surfs the subscription card business

The subscription model is on the rise. This consists of asking the customer to pay a certain amount per year in order to be sure of obtaining a discounted rates or even certain additional benefits.

If he travels enough, the customer is sure to make substantial savings over the year. But the hotelier also gains by creating a captive clientele who also often forget not to renew their annual subscription if they are not completely satisfied.

With this in mind, Accor has launched the Accor Plus program in specific markets, namely: Asia-Pacific, India, China and Brazil. And it works: according to the hotelier, cardholders have increased their bookings by 35-45%.

The Accor Plus card

For a given amount, the customer benefits from discounts in the group’s hotels and can even increase the benefits received by increasing the amount of his membership fee.

If I take the example of Australia (the programme is not available in France at the moment).

These include a 10% discount on the public rate, Silver status in the Accor Live Limitless loyalty programme, up to 50% discount in hotel restaurants, 15% off drinks….

And for what price?

The subscription starts at AUD 249 per year (EUR 153).

But by spending more you can get more benefits!

For 399 AUD (248 Euros) you get a free night, for 498 AUD (309 Euros) you get special offers on cruises and wine (???) and for 399 AUD you get Accor Gold status and benefits with Qantas.

The future All Plus Voyageur program will be launched on this basis.

The ALL Plus Traveller program

Accor has said a little more about this new subscription program. What we do know is that it would offer discounts of 20% in the group’s top-of-the-range hotels, 15% in mid-range and economy properties, would give its members a Silver status in the All loyalty program, a late check out at 3pm and the card would cost 199 euros per year in France (the price will vary according to the market).

A priori interesting benefits, but let’s take a closer look.

Let’s start with the discounts.

If you want to know after how many nights you will have made your card profitable you should not start from the public price but from the price to which the members of the All loyalty program are entitled, free of charge, whatever their status.

I made a simulation for a stay in Lyon next week.

4.5 to 5% in general, so the 15 to 20% allowed by the All Plus Voyageur card is interesting.

At this rate it will take about 6 nights to pay off the card. Since it is intended for people who travel a lot, the deal is very interesting.

The card offers its holder an All Silver status. Is it a real gift? Let’s look at the status table at All.

All Silver status is achieved after 10 nights. So a little more than is necessary to make the card profitable, but one can’t help thinking that the people who will find it worthwhile to buy an All Plus Voyageur pass are people who will spend at least 10 nights in a hotel.

In fact, Accor offers a status that the customer would have acquired naturally by himself: the typical example of the false gift.

And don’t forget that if you’re only interested in status, the Ibis card gives you Gold status for €90 per year and 15% at Ibis (but only at Ibis)! If you want to benefit from a slightly elevated status for your few stays at Accor without wanting to get married to them, this is an option to consider.

It is not known if the dining discounts will be taken over from Accor Plus and late check out is available to all members from Silver status onwards (3pm is a bit stingy but it is a constant with All benefits).

Is All Plus Voyageur interesting?

If Accor Plus worked well, there is no reason why All Plus Voyageur should not be a success, especially as it will finally be open to France where Accor has an inexplicably captive customer base!

But will it really be interesting for customers? It depends.

From our point of view, All Voyageur Plus will be interesting for really loyal Accor customers who travel a bit, mainly in the upper or middle range, and want to marry with the brand. Because only discounts are really worth it. The benefits (status, late check out) linked to the loyalty program are both penny-wise and pound foolish because the customer would have acquired them anyway.

Perhaps it will attract customers who used to go to Accoret only moderately will encourage them to switch brands? We think that this is the gamble that Accor is taking, but in the long run the weakness of the loyalty program means that it will only attract a clientele that is highly price-sensitive, and it is not for nothing that no premium chain has taken up the subscription option to date. Accor is making a strange bet: the group wants to develop at the top of the range but is targeting a price-sensitive clientele. Hardly legible.

And we are curious to see how this program will be received by the franchisees. Accor has a reputation for not being able to impose itself on its franchisees, who often apply the loyalty program and its benefits only as they wish. And on top of this, which is already complicated, there will be significant discounts. When you know that franchisees represent 98% of Accor hotels…

Bottom line

Following its success in certain geographical areas, Accor will extend its subscription offer to other areas of the world. A very interesting offer for a highly price-sensitive clientele, less so for others in the long term when we look at the low benefits that Accor generally offers to its loyal customers.

[Edit: contrary to the information we have the ALL Plus Voyageur card does not give Silver status but a 20 night bonus, which is better for loyal customers. However, given the unattractiveness of the ALL program in terms of benefits and the lack of discipline of the franchisees, we do not believe that Accor is fighting the most important battle.]

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrin
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.

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